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Today, I wave a little white flag of surrender in my daily battle to keep ants from taking over our home.

I’m willing to call professional exterminators and sign one of those contracts that costs big bucks but is supposed to guarantee a house free of pests.

This recent invasion began in April, when little black ants appeared in my kitchen. It was a mild nuisance, and my immediate reaction was to squish them and put more effort into keeping our counters free of sticky stuff.

I knew they weren’t going to go away on their own and was not surprised when I woke up to find a black stream of them lining our kitchen wall one morning.

My husband, Ron, and I joined forces to rid our home of ants. He fought them outside with super-strong, insecticide while I defended my kitchen by placing ant baits on everything but the plates and silverware.

I thought our efforts had paid off when the ant population dwindled to the level where I could get away with simply wiping the counters a lot and squishing several dozen ants a day.

Then, they retaliated with a full-blown attack in July and finally pushed me over the edge last night by moving beyond the kitchen.

I was watching "Jaws" on TV for the millionth time and just about to doze off when I felt one scoot across my arm.

I realized it was time to call in the pros, which is my "weapon of last resort" against household pests.

Living in so many places with such a variety of pests has taught me there is a point when I must place the job of pest control in more capable hands.

During the years when our boys were crawling around putting everything in their mouths, I was more likely to trust the professionals than try to fight ants, mice and other invaders on my own.

It wasn’t safe to have ant baits sitting around for one of the boys to gobble up, I told myself while signing the dreaded contract. Plus, I was always sleep-deprived and an easy target for door-to-door bug men.

In recent years, I have managed to keep our home free of creepy crawlers, except for the ones my sons bring into the house as temporary pets.

I defended our home during the flea invasion of 2006 by having Glory dipped and by bombing the house with insecticide twice.

(Excuse me for a moment while I pause to squish the ant crawling across my thigh … No, I did not make that up!)

Ron kept the Texas fire ants from taking over our yard in San Antonio by keeping a steady supply of the ant killer recommended by our neighbors. I successfully kept one of my least favorite creatures, the thousand-legged millipede, out of our Pennsylvania bathrooms.

The last time I hired an exterminator was within days of moving to San Diego. Just the mention of "roof rats" was enough to make me sign on the dotted line when the truck with a bug on top appeared in our driveway.

Rodents the size of small dogs are way beyond my skill level in defending our home, and I’m still a bit haunted by the idea of Chihuahua-size rats peeking in our windows at night.

My many battles against rodents and insects have led to one obvious conclusion about fighting home invaders: The big guys are scary but the little ones can be nasty, too, when they attack in such high numbers.

Pam Zich has moved eight times in 17 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. E-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or find the Zichs online atwww.lifeonthehomefront.com.


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